SAA10012 - The Manbah Market Strike

September 1, 2019

Incident ID: SAA10012
Location: Āl Maqna, Manbah, Sa'ada 
Coordinates: 17.105202, 43.263682
Incident Grading: Likely
Date: 19.09.2015
Time: Between 1200 - 1951, likely around sunset.

KEY FINDINGS

- On 2015/09/19 what was likely an airstrike hit a small village in Manbah, Sa'ada Governorate.

- The strike appears to have hit a commercial area, with shops clearly present among the destruction. 

- The reported number of fatalities (50-72) included at least 2 children, and indicate that a crowd of some kind may have been hit.

- Open sources do not appear to indicate that those present were militants.

DISCOVERY

As part of the Discovery process, we searched across search engines and social media, including Facebook, Twitter and Youtube. We searched for the terms “Āl Maqna”, “Manbah” and “Sa’ada” in both English and Arabic, initially using time-limited searches and then combined it with terms such as “bombing”, “attack” and “aggression” (a slang term for the Saudi Led Coalition) in English and Arabic without a time limit.

A full list of sources can be found at the end of this report.

WHERE?

After initially searching for locations named “Manbah” (منبة) we identified a video report from Al Masirah of the two year anniversary of the incident in question. The title of this Youtube video referred to “Maqna” (مقنع). We searched for this location on Geonames and found a possible match. The co-ordinates given by Geonames did not immediately identify a village, but rather an area. We therefore followed the nearest road from the point given and checked for settlements. The first settlement we found was a hamlet on a road junction at 17.105202, 43.263682. After close examination it became clear this small settlement was the location at which this incident took place. 

Top: still from Al Masirah video report at this location for the two-year anniversary of this strike. Bottom: satellite image of this location taken on 2018/05/07 (courtesy of Google/Maxar Technologies)


Top: composite panorama from what appears to be footage from a Yemen TV video report shortly after the strike, Bottom: satellite image of this location taken on 2016/01/18 (courtesy of Google/CNES/Airbus)

What was the location being used for?

Multiple sources claim that this location was a market of some kind. Although it doesn’t appear to be a large market, it does appear to have been a location where commercial activity was taking place. Images and videos show buildings either side of the road, some of which have shelves with products on them.

Still from the Al Masirah aftermath report showing the interior of a room which appears to be a shop. 
Still from a video report posted by an account claiming to be the Ansar Allah Media Center. Note the shelves just visible in the background to the right.

It should be noted that at least one building, the largest on this road, has had the Houthi slogan painted on a wall.The green writing appears to be religious phrases and sayings, but did not indicate what the building was for. It was not possible to ascertain exactly what the purpose of this large building was. 


Still from video showing Houthi slogan. The exact purpose of this building could not be ascertained.

Was there military activity in the area?

Open sources do not appear to show that there was any visible military activity at this location.

WHEN?

Date

All sources agree that this incident took place on 2015/09/19

Time

The exact time of this strike was not possible to accurately ascertain. One news report stated that the strike took place in the evening, but did not mention an exact time.

The earliest social media post we identified which explicitly mentioned an airstrike at this location was made by the Al Masirah Twitter account. It posted a Tweet at 1951 AST stating that an airstrike hit a market in the Maqna (translated by Twitter to “Al Mawaqeen”) area.

Tweet from Al Masirah made at 1951 AST. Note that the timestamp is BST as the researcher who located this Tweet is based in the UK.

The Al Masirah video depicting the aftermath of this incident appears to have been filmed in the morning of the next day. In this video bodies are seen being collected and moved. The shadows in this video are pointing to the north west, indicating the video was filmed in the morning. It therefore appears likely that this video was filmed on the morning of 2015/09/20 and not on the day of the strike itself.

Shadow are seen pointing to the west seen in the Al Masirah aftermath video, indicating it was taken in the morning.

Ansar Allah stated in a Tweet that the strike had taken place at the time of al Maghareb, the prayers just after sunset. Sunset at this location on this day was at 1803. This appears to be consistent with the recovery efforts appearing to have taken place the next day.

Due to the lack of other information, we can therefore only say that this strike likely took place between 1200-1951 on the evening of 2015/09/19. Reports on social media indicate that it took place shortly after sunset, which appear to be consistent with other events such as the recovery effort. 

WHAT DAMAGE WAS DONE?

The damage to this location appears to be limited to the southern area of the village, in the vicinity of the large building. That large building, and the building immediately to the north, has clearly suffered significant structural damage. There is debris scattered around this area, as well as three cars in close proximity to each other  which have been destroyed in the blast.

The red circle marks the area which appears to have suffered the most damage. Satellite image taken on 2016/01/18 (courtesy of Google/CNES/Airbus)


Top: Composite panorama of video depicting area. Bottom: Satellite image taken on 2016/01/18 showing viewpoint (courtesy of Google/CNES/Airbus)


Top: Image posted to Facebook showing main street. Bottom: Satellite image taken on 2016/01/18 showing viewpoint (courtesy of Google/CNES/Airbus)


Top: Still from video. Note the collapsed roof to the right hand side. Bottom: Satellite image taken on 2016/01/18 showing viewpoint (courtesy of Google/CNES/Airbus)

Who were the casualties?

There are multiple, graphic images showing the casualties in this incident. None of the casualties depicted in any of the sources we reviewed appear to have been wearing military uniform. In the Al Masirah aftermath footage two bodies are visible with are notably smaller than the other bodies, strongly indicating that children were also among those killed in this incident. 

Still from Al Masirah aftermath video. Not the size of the two bodies to the left compared to the body of the man on the right. 

The wreckage of three vehicles are clearly visible in media associated with this incident. It is not known if these vehicles were moving through the village or stationary when the munition detonated. 

The three vehicles, on the west side of the street, as seen in an image posted to Facebook.

CASUALTIES

The number of fatalities reported in this incident varies between 63-72 fatalities. Multiple fatalities are seen in images and videos associated with this incident, and the number of reported fatalities imply that a crowd was gathered at this location when the munition detonated. 

- FK News: 50 fatalities, 14 wounded
- Sa'adah News: 63 fatalities, “dozens wounded”
- Al Baydaha: 63 fatalities
- Yemen Watch: 72 fatalities, more than 10 wounded
- Al Masirah: 72 fatalities

WHAT MUNITION WAS USED?

Crater

There is no clear crater at this location, although there is clear damage to buildings. 

Remnants

Metal remnants can be seen being held up by various people in this video, presumably as they believed these were parts of the munition. It was not possible to identify these fragments or confirm that they came from an air-delivered munition. 

Man holding up metal fragments in this video


Man holding up metal fragments in this video

WAS IT AN AIRSTRIKE?

Although there is not enough information to confirm that this was an airstrike, the consistent reports of aircraft bombing this location make it appear likely that this was indeed an airstrike. 

STATEMENTS BY PARTIES TO CONFLICT

The SLC

No confirmed statement from the SLC could be identified regarding this incident. 

The Houthis

No confirmed statement from the Houthis could be identified regarding this incident. 

CONCLUSION

At some time between 1200-1951 it appears likely that an airstrike took place on a village in the area of Āl Maqna. The location affected appears to have been a commercial area, with shops clearly present in the aftermath footage, however the purpose of a large building next to where the munition detonated could not be established. The large number of fatalities may indicate that a crowd was present at the time of the strike. Images indicate that at least two children were among those killed.

SOURCES

Social Media

2015/09/19 - 1951: Earliest Tweet identified mentioned incident
2015/09/19 - 2337: Tweet stating strike took place at the time of Maghreb prayers
2015/09/20 - 0020: Tweet with report of strike
2015/09/20 - 2338: Facebook post with images of aftermath & claims of a health center
2015/09/20 -  2346: Facebook post with images of aftermath. Graphic images of casualties
2015/09/21 - 0108: Tweet with graphic images of casualties
2015/09/21 - 2354: Facebook post showing child fatalities
2015/09/22 - 0020: Video on Facebook, originally from Al Masirah

2015/10/09 - Yemen TV video posted to Youtube
2015/09/26 - Al Masirah video of aftermath posted to YouTube
2015/10/09 - Footage of aftermath posted to YouTube, possibly from a Yemen TV report
2015/10/10 - Footage of aftermath posted to YouTube
2017/09/22 - Al Masirah video of two year anniversary protest posted to YouTube

Other Videos

Al Masirah video with short clip of casualties
Al Masirah video of two year anniversary protest

Media Reports

Yemen Watch report
Al Baydha daily summary
Sa’ada News report
FK News report